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Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas - Book Review

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Sky and Telescope’s Pocket Sky Atlas is about 6.5 x 9 inches which is a little big to call pocket-size but small enough to use at the eyepiece and large enough to show charts visible to 60+ year-old tri-focaled eyes. It shows stars to magnitude 7.6 which includes all stars visible in a modest finderscope. There are 80 charts on facing pages each pair covering 50 degrees of the night sky with an index map on the inside back cover. In addition there are close-up charts of the Pleiades (M45), Orion’s Sword, the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and the Large Magellanic Cloud. The facing pages have a small but useful overlap and the page edges show the number of the adjacent chart (I had to add these to my Star Atlas 2000). The atlas has a spiral binder which allows folding it back to see a single page easily.

The page design of the Pocket Atlas is similar to the Sky Atlas 2000 Deluxe Version (stars to mag. 8.5) but much smaller than the 16.25 x 21 inch chart size. The background is white with contoured two tone blue showing the Milky Way. Star clusters are yellow, galaxies red, nebulae green. All are drawn to scale except for very small objects which are shown by symbol. Multiple and variable stars are indicated by barred dots and dot in circles respectively. Constellation stick figures are green lines (I had to draw them in on my Sky Atlas 2000) and boundaries are shown by dotted lines. The color scheme is excellent for both white and red light viewing. Stars and extended objects are labeled using common names and/or standard catalog nomenclature. In addition a number of special interest stars are indicated like carbon stars ©. There are 55 carbon stars shown in the atlas. Stars fainter than magnitude 5.5 are plotted but not labeled. I’m not sure but the page surface seems to be moisture resistant. It does have a “tooth” to allow writing notes with a pencil.

I will still use my Sky Atlas 2000 to plan observing sessions and to record observed objects but the Pocket Sky Atlas is what I will use in the field and carry on trips.


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